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Forum Fellows 2017-2018 SOVEREIGNTY

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"Sovereignty in Performance, Poetics, & Politics": Forum Grant Recipients 2017-2018

David Anderson

Associate Professor of English

Project Title: "Shakespeare, BC: Ethics, Religion and Historical Contingency in the Greco-Roman Plays"


In the 2017-18 year Dr. David Anderson will undertake work on Shakespeare’s last tragedy, Coriolanus. He will argue that Coriolanus depicts a world where sovereignty — personal and political, conceptual and material — is regarded as the highest good and where social bonds are conceived of purely in terms of power. He hopes by the end of the year to have produced a full chapter on this theme for his current book project on Shakespeare’s Greco-Roman plays, as well as a related journal article which focuses on the common ground between Coriolanus and Satan from John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Edgar Heap of Birds

Professor of Native American Studies

Project Title: "Genocide, Sovereignty and Democracy"


Artistic visual and conceptual expressions are an excellent vehicle for public consideration and contemplation regarding challenging issues and concepts. Via his Forum Grant Dr. Edgar Heap of Birds plans to forge an intellectual presence that will illuminate the timely themes of genocide, sovereignty, and democracy for today. This presence will be realized through the execution of an ambitious suite of poetic ink on rag paper lithographic mono prints for museum exhibition and originally produced in Santa Fe, New Mexico; the exhibition will be expanded via public events at OU.   MPR News Story

Waleed F. Mahdi

Assistant Professor of International & Area Studies and Modern Languages, Literatures, & Linguistics

Project Title: “Arab Americans in Film: Representations of Citizenship and Belonging in US and Arab Cinemas”


Dr. Waleed F. Mahdi has been awarded a Forum Grant for his book project examining the representation of Arab Americans in Hollywood, Egyptian, and Arab American filmmaking. He will compare the politics and portrayal of identity, belonging, and citizenship in each of these three cinemas. The comparative framework locates the sovereignty of this country's 3.5 million Arab Americans at the disjuncture of the sustained relevance of nationalism in today’s globalized context and the solidifying demand by diasporic communities for hybrid identities. 

Kimberly J. Marshall

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Project Title: “Erasing the Erasure of the Boise Valley People: The Poetics and Politics of Representational Sovereignty”


In her research, Dr. Kimberly Marshall traces the outlines of the erasure of the Boise Valley people from the landscape of this metropolitan center of Idaho. As an anthropologist, she is interested in how this erasure informs Boise’s contemporary culture, particularly as it manifests in expressive form: in contemporary folklore, visual arts, public artwork, musical culture, festivals, museums, and dance. Her research also aims to use Indigenous methodologies and an “Ally” mindset to partner with contemporary descendants of the Boise Valley people in projects that help to re-assert that which has been erased. In particular, her research aims to create projects and conditions which allow contemporary descendants of the Boise Valley People to re-assert "representational sovereignty" over the Boise Valley landscape. Under the auspices of the OU Humanities Forum she aims to host a workshop for contemporary Native Idaho artists in Norman, bringing them into conversation with Native Oklahoman artists, in order to foster discussion around the theme of representational sovereignty. Cross-tribal discussions will provide artists from all tribes with a broader context for local struggles for representational sovereignty and help foster continuing alliances.


Kimberly G. Wieser

Assistant Professor of English, Native American Studies, & Environmental Studies

Project Title: “Gathering at Our Headwaters: Poetry and Prose from the 25th Anniversary American Indian and Indigenous Storytelling and Literary Festival”


Dr. Kimberly Wieser's Forum project intends to demonstrate change in a writing community of color over the course of time. The Returning the Gift Festival will take place at the University of Oklahoma during the 2017-18 academic year; its focus will be “Gathering at Our Headwaters,” which connects directly with the Humanities Forum’s theme of “Sovereignty in Performance, Poetics, and Politics.” One of the culminations of this event (and demonstrated transformation in the Native writing community) will be the development of an anthology of Indigenous creative writing, including poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, drama, and other forms of expression. This year’s festival will mark the 25th anniversary of the first Returning the Gift conference, which took place in Norman in 1992.